20 Famous People Who Were Stolen Away



It's the greatest dream of many people to be famous, but anyone who is will tell it's not all it's cracked up to be. Fame isn't quite the same thing as fortune, but even those who have both need to worry about public harassment, exhausting schedules, and stalkers.

And it seems that not even dying can protect the few who get to this level of society from the price of fame.




Charlie Chaplin

IMDB

IMDB

The silent film star's body was stolen in Switzerland by two men who wanted the equivalent of $600,000 as a ransom. But Chaplin's widow refused to pay, saying "Charlie would have thought it rather ridiculous" and police soon caught the grave robbers.


Ludvig van Beethoven

archiv.fraunhofer.de

archiv.fraunhofer.de

Beethoven's pathologist removed the composer's ear bones with the intent of studying the cause of his hearing loss, but that study never happened and the bones went missing. The pathologist also botched the sawing of Beethoven's skull so much that it didn't fit back together.


Galileo Galilei

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

The famous astronomer rested for 95 years before an admirer removed his middle finger, of all things. Today, it can be seen in a glass egg at the Florence History of Science Museum.


Walt Whitman

Raab Collection

Raab Collection

The poet's brain was taken by a phrenologist–a person who follows the discredited idea that intelligence is determined by the shape of the head–against the wishes of Whitman's family.

Sadly, the brain was accidentally destroyed under mysterious circumstances.


Voltaire

Open Culture

Open Culture

Voltaire's nephew took his body out of concern that the writer's powerful enemies would prevent a proper burial. So the nephew pretended Voltaire was still alive and sat him in his carriage before taking him to a small monastery.


John Milton

The Guardian

The Guardian

When St. Giles's Church was being restored in 1790, the writer's body was removed to make the repairs easier. But for whatever reason, the construction crew stole Milton's teeth and one of his ribs.


Abraham Lincoln

The White House

The White House

Lincoln's body was stolen for a $200,000 ransom, but was returned quickly because one of the body snatchers was an informant for the Secret Service.


Elvis Presley

NCIFM

NCIFM

Technically the plot to steal the King's body failed before it began, since the four robbers had barely entered his mausoleum before a car's headlights scared them off. But the motive for their attempt remains shrouded in mystery.


Napoléon Bonaparte

Wikipedia Commons

Wikipedia Commons

Napoléon had the misfortune of losing his penis during his autopsy and the member was passed around until it was sold to an American urologist in 1977. When it was shown off at a New York museum, journalists described it as "a maltreated strip of buckskin shoelace" and "a shriveled eel."


Benito Mussolini

Britannica

Britannica

The dictator's body was a frequent target for neo-fascists and anti-fascists alike, so it was hidden in a crate marked "church documents" before finally reaching his family crypt in 1957.

But not all of him made it to the crypt, since someone was caught trying to sell his blood and parts of his brain on the internet.


Joseph Haydn

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

The great composer and mentor to Mozart and Beethoven lost his skull to phrenologists who thought it held the key to his genius. It was then displayed in a Vienna museum until it was reunited with the rest of his body in 1954.


René Descartes

Pandaemonium

Pandaemonium

Before the philosopher's body was transferred back to France from Sweden, a Swedish guardsman removed his head and kept it in his home until he was forced to sell it.

Today, there are five possible matches for Descartes' skull, but the most likely candidate is believed to be a French anthropology museum, "Musée de l'Homme."


Eva Peron

Daily Mirror

Daily Mirror

Peron's enduring popularity after her death was inconvenient for her political enemies. So they shipped her body off to Italy, where she was buried under a fake name.

Her remains were eventually returned to Argentina and restored – but it took nearly 20 years!


Thomas Paine

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

A British supporter exhumed the thinker's body and took his bones back to England for a proper burial. Curiously, that burial didn't happen – and now the bones are missing.


Oliver Cromwell

Daily Mail

Daily Mail

He enjoyed tremendous power as England's Lord Protector, but was dug up, mutilated and reburied during the Restoration of the monarchy. What happened after that is a mystery, but one of the more colorful tales sees his head impaled on a spike outside Westminster Hall.


The Disc Jockey: Casey Kasem

Biography

Biography


Jeremy Bentham

List verse

List verse


Henri IV

List verse

List verse

During revolutions, even the dead are not safe from violence. During the French revolution the tombs of former kings were desecrated, and their bodies scattered. Henri IV, called ‘The Good’ and founder of the Bourbon dynasty, suffered the indignity of being dug up nearly 200 years after his death.


Einstein’s Brain

List verse

List verse

Einstein’s brain is perhaps the most famous organ of the 20th century. The brain became synonymous with genius, and remains an item of fascination for neuroscientists. Within hours of Einstein’s death, his brain was removed for study to try and understand the source of his insights.


Buddha’s Tooth

List verse

List verse

Gautama Buddha was the spiritual teacher who founded Buddhism in the 6th century BC in India. As with many religious figures, things associated with the life of Buddha became objects of veneration for followers. After Buddha’s death, he was cremated on a sandalwood pyre and his body entirely consumed, except for one of his canine teeth.